Carmelo Anthony will notify the Knicks on Monday, via mail, that he is opting out of the final year of his contract and that he plans to test the free agent market.
A person close to the All-Star forward confirmed on Sunday that Anthony will become a free agent on July 1st.
“Yes, 100 percent,” the source told the Daily News.
Anthony has been steadfast in his plans to become an unrestricted free agent and has said throughout the season that he would exercise the early termination clause in his contract. Knicks president Phil Jackson had asked Anthony to considering “opting in” and giving him and new head coach Derek Fisher the chance to show Anthony that they are committed to building a winner.
Anthony’s decision does not mean he won’t return to the Knicks, who have the ability to pay him more than any other team. Anthony’s preference is to remain in New York but he is worried about being part of another rebuilding season.
“I want to come back. But I also want to win,” Anthony said in April. “You know, me wanting to be here, if we can put ourselves in position to at least compete at a high level over the course of [the next contract], then I’m willing to stay here and I’m willing to ride or die for New York.
“You know, I’ve never once said I wanted to leave. I always said that I wanted to explore my options, I wanted to see what’s out there.”
The Knicks won 37 games this past season and Anthony failed to make the playoffs for the first time in his career. Anthony, 30, would consider signing with a contending team if Jackson’s plan is to wait until the next summer to make significant moves when the club will have available salary cap space to sign free agents.
“I’m not losing sleep over it but I’m definitely concerned about the idea of a guy going into free agency,” Jackson said last month. “It only takes one bidder out there that has the ability and can ruin your hopes and your chances.”
Jackson, who currently on vacation in Turkey, is committed to re-signing Anthony but he’s also made it abundantly clear that the franchise is in good shape with or without Anthony.
How that comment was received by Garden Chairman James Dolan is unclear. Dolan’s signature move was acquiring Anthony from the Denver Nuggets in Feb. 2011. Jackson took a playful jab at that deal when he said he wouldn’t be interviewing Denver head coach Brian Shaw for the Knicks then-vacant coaching job because he didn’t want to pay compensation.
“Denver has everything that we owned for the last few years so there’s nothing else I want to give them,” Jackson said.
The Knicks remain favorites to re-sign Anthony but they will face stiff competition from several clubs. Here’s the breakdown:
Chicago Bulls — Joakim Noah reportedly started recruiting Anthony during All-Star Weekend, which makes sense. The Bulls give Anthony everything he needs; contending team with a great history and in a big market.
A trio of Anthony, Noah and a healthy Derrick Rose would be very formidable. A sign and trade is not completely out of the question since Jackson and his former player, Bulls VP John Paxson, are close.
Houston Rockets — Another sign and trade possibility exists as the Rockets plan to make a strong push for either LeBron James or Anthony to team with Dwight Howard and James Harden. No state tax is enticing but playing in the much tougher Western Conference is not.
Miami Heat — The story of Miami plotting to sign Anthony dominated the NBA Finals for two days but died a quick death. Pat Riley called it a pipe dream but by now we should all know that you never underestimate Riley.
Los Angeles Lakers — If the Lakers could find a way to sign James, then maybe they land Anthony, who lives in the LA area during the offseason. A few years ago the Lakers could have traded Andrew Bynum to the Nuggets for Anthony. They blew that one.